Mexico hurricane storm loses force

A hurricane sweeping across across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has weakened to a tropical storm.

Ernesto's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 70 mph with additional weakening expected as the storm moves over land. But the US National Hurricane Centre said it could regain hurricane strength after its centre emerges over the Bay of Campeche.

The storm is centred about 55 miles west-northwest of Chetumal, Mexico, and is moving west near 15 mph.

Ernesto had sustained winds of 85 mph when it swept over the shore town of Mahuahal shortly before midnight on Tuesday and moved into a sparsely populated coastal region.